Going by a Los Angeles Times report posted early this morning, Rams owner Stan Kroenke is set to saber-rattle the fillings right out of the city of St. Louis. Kroenke got his hands on 60 acres of real estate adjacent to the old Forum in Inglewood, and has made plans to combine it and the 238 acres next door to build a new sports complex, including an 80,000-seat, NFL-ready stadium. You know, pending results of negotiations with St. Louis on stadium upgrades.
The obvious first: This is the latest in a long and tired procession of potential sites for an L.A. football stadium. This particular plan has the distinction of being the first one attached to an NFL owner who actually owns a suitable site. Kroenke's 60 acres aren't actually big enough for the stadium and parking, but his announced partnership for the neighboring land, with Stockbridge Capital Group, would fold the stadium into a larger office/retail/residential project. The stadium would be ready for the 2018 season, and has support from local politicians—easy enough, since all of the L.A. proposals are absent any public funding.
On the St. Louis front, this lines up conspicuously with the timetables on stadium negotiations. The Rams are 20 years into a 30-year lease, but the L.A. Times reports that they can choose to take their lease year-to-year if they don't come to terms with St. Louis over "stadium improvements." Right now, the two sides are about $575 million apart, with a new proposal from the city due around the end of the month. And wouldn't you know it, this week the Times gets its story about Kroenke's purchase, which went through last year. That's a real nice NFL racket you got going there, St. Louis. Be a shame if something happened to it. A real shame.
Of course, a little extortion on the side doesn't mean that this is an entirely empty gesture—the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders are all realistic candidates, and at least the L.A. reporters who have chimed in so far think there's a legitimate chance this comes off.
MMQB.com has a short interview with Times reporter Sam Farmer in which he explains the mechanics of an actual move:
When is the earliest the Rams could play in L.A.?
Farmer: 2016. They could conceivably play in the new stadium by 2018—but they won't put shovels in the ground for the stadium until they get the Environmental Impact Report done, which is all the legal, environmental and political clearances to build the stadium. The earliest that could happen would probably be early in 2016.
Where would the Rams play until 2018, if they move?
Farmer: I think it's most likely the [Los Angeles] Coliseum. But I wouldn't rule out the Rose Bowl.
So there you go, another L.A. proposal that's a little more credible than all the others, but which is also perfectly positioned as leverage in negotiations separated by the better part of a billion dollars in public funding. Real nice racket the NFL has there.
Top image vie L.A. Times / HKS Inc.